Windows 7 forum


Right Drivers, Wrong System, What Happens?

by tonyny77 / December 20, 2013 2:18 AM PST

What happens to your Windows 7 system if you do a driver installation for a device you don't have?

I was restoring a laptop from my Windows Home Server. Although the recovery boot disk found most of my drivers, it didn't find any for my network card. So, using another computer, I downloaded the correct drivers from the manufacturer's web site, but the "package" was in the form of an .exe file. It looked like the only way to get the actual drivers would be to run the .exe file.

So, I've been wondering whether I've done any harm to the system on which I unbundled the drivers. Any advice would be appreciated, and thanks in advance.

Oh, by the way, the system I used to unbundle the drivers still works fine. But this who thing with managing drivers has always been perplexing to me, and that's why I'm still worried about it.

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All Answers

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It varies.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 20, 2013 2:23 AM PST

Most of the time the driver detects it's not for this system and bails out. However if you are unlucky the OS will just lock up on the next boot.

What is this unbundling the drivers? I've never had to do more than go get the drivers and some do come in .exe form. Nothing new about that.

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It's a Windows Home Server Issue
by tonyny77 / December 26, 2013 10:54 PM PST
In reply to: It varies.

Thanks for your reply, Bob. With a Windows Home Server (WHS) full client restore, the drivers needed for your system are supposed to be saved in a special directory. This isn't always the case, though. In recent weeks I've had one success and one failure. In case you're curious, I'll try to briefly explain.

Problem #1 is that the WHS boot CD for client restores is in 32-bit form, so for 64-bit systems a new version of the CD needs to be downloaded and burned in bootable form. I got that part taken care of.

Problem #2 -- Many people trying a WHS client restore have posted in various forums indicating there's no driver loaded for their network card; this was also the case with me. When the WHS bootable client recovery disc doesn't find the drivers it needs, it stops and provides the opportunity to plug-in a USB drive with the drivers for the system being restored, which you'd presumably obtain from the manufacturer's web site using a different working computer. But when you go to the manufacturer's web site to obtain the drivers, with my limited experiences it seems the drivers usually are provided as a .exe file that wants to "install" them. Of course, you can't do this with a system you're trying to recover. Or is there a "trick" to this issue that I just don't understand?

Having this issue for the first time, I used a different working computer and performed the "install" of the .exe file hoping I'd be able to locate where the driver files were recorded, and then I'd just copy the .sys files to a USB drive, plug it into the client being restored, and then WHS would be able to proceed. That didn't work, though; perhaps I copied the wrong files. So out of frustration, I opened the last good back-up and copied all the .sys files I could find (there were hundreds of them) anywhere within/below the c:\windows\system32 directory.

With a Lenovo ThinkPad I was trying to restore, copying all the .sys files worked (dumb luck, I guess), and the full WHS client recovery was successful. But the same technique didn't work for a Samsung Netbook.

By the way ... Perhaps it was just more dumb luck, but the working system I used for "installing" the .exe file with the drivers I needed isn't suffering any ill effects I can see. No, I am NOT saying that was an acceptable/correct method. As I said, it must have been dumb luck.

Drivers are a major weak area with me. The necessary solutions here are probably simple for highly experienced users, but I've been just stumped when it comes to this common piece of advice I see regarding Windows full installs and system recoveries: "Have a disc handy with a copy of all of your system's drivers." On a working system, I've never known exactly where to find just the specific drivers I need.

If you can reply with some generic advice, thanks very, very much. Have a happy New Year and many thanks again for the D-Link DIR-655 router you once recommended to me.

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Ahh, that sort of driver recovery.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 27, 2013 12:45 AM PST

I know about it but since it's more work and never a sure thing I use the old fashioned way. I collect the drivers from the maker's web sites and place them on a folder on some USB stick. When it's correct and I have a working install routine then I can write down the procedure and place the drivers on CD or USB sticks..

The machines I see today often have no ODD (optical disc drive) and with USB sticks of 4GB being 4 bucks in bulk, that will do fine.

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